April 25, 1917

LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

That is not what the

people of Moncton and the railway employees there will tell you. They will tell you that there is no justification for the conduct of the officials of the Intercolonial in the treatment of the men.

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS-PROMOTION OF EMPLOYEES.
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

The hon. member for St. John (Mr. Pugsley) has raised a second point to Which I wish to refer. The first point was patronage, and the second the low rates. No road in Canada, and with one exception, none on the American continent, has as low freight rates as the Intercolonial. I challenge any hon. gentleman to contravert that statement. Give us in Western Canada the rates that are charged on the Intercolonial and our people will add enormously to their returns. These rates are maintained at the cost of the whole people of Canada, and we have the right to demand efficient administration of the road. But under the devilikh patronage system which grew up prior to 1911, and of which there is no greater disciple than the hon. gentleman from Carleton-

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

Did the hon. gentleman (Mr. R. B. Bennett) ever hear about the train that was put on between Moncton and Shediac two weeks before the election and was taken off the day after it?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

Yes, it was a replacement of a train that used to be there and which had been taken off for efficiency, but the politicians demanded that it should be put back again.

, Mr. CARVELL: Taken off live years ago.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

No, only five

months ago, and put back again at the demand of politicians, Tory politicians-and I denounce the Tory politicians for that as much as I do the men whom they feebly imitate.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I thought the hon. gentleman said that there was no patronage, yet !he admits that a train was put on a couple of weeks before an election and then, they having lost the election., it was taken off the day after.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

The hon. gentleman did not follow me. I said that the minister endeavoured to conduct the Intercolonial without patronage, but that our own people have not accepted his position but have bitterly complained and criticized him. Yet the principle for which he contended, the principle of Government ownership of that public utility, depends upon a non-political, efficient, business administration. The minister entrusted it to the hands of the general manager, and that general manager, free from political control, might have been able to carry that principle into full effect. But heirs of all the ages though we be, beneficiaries of all the past with regard to the Intercolonial, it was not possible wholly to divorce the administration of the road from politics in a single moment, and the result has been that the minister has been subject to criticism on the part of his own friends. And hon. gentlemen opposite, instead of assisting to maintain and vindicate the principle of public ownership, have taken every opportunity in their power to stimulate criticism and stir the antipathies of the people, in order to make them believe that they are ill-used, although the Government was making a supreme effort to manage this road, not for the people of the Maritime Provinces alone, but for all the people, against the control of a private corporation to which it was to be handed over.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Does that explain the putting on of election trains?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

Certainly. Because in the days of the last election, it was not one election train but a whole series of

them, with free tickets handed out by political workers with a view to securing votes. I know this, for I was down there shortly afterwards.

I see that my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) has the following notice of motion on the Order Paper:

That, in the opinion of this House, the prevailing system of party patronage constitutes a menace to honest and efficient government, incites to great waste of resources and1 extravagance, in its application to expenditures and' appointments for military purposes, greatly injures the proper fulfilment of our duty to the nation, tends inevitably to corrupt and lower the tone of public morals and should forthwith be eliminated from our Federal administration.

Noble words ! High sentiments ! Lofty aspirations ! But my hon. friend from Pictou and my hon. friend from St. John believe in these things in the abstract. The resolution is put there as a means of throwing dust in the eyes of the people, as the hon. gentleman says the hon. member for Colchester (Mr. Stanfield) has been doing. But if hon. gentlemen opposite were sincere, they would have practiced something of these virtues which they profess in opposition.

I do feel that the members of this House should look upon the Intercolonial railway as something more than two lines of steel owned by the people of the lower provinces. My hon. friend from Kings, Prince Edward Island (Mr. J. J. Hughes) failed to tell the House, when he talked of lack of equipment, that he was speaking of a narrow-gauge road, one in which standard equipment cannot be used.

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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. J. J. HUGHES:

We had that information thirty years ago.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

I did not know that the hon. gentleman had received it yet, and one would not have supposed that he had it from the way he spoke. I am glad that his constituents had the information thirty years ago, and that he has discovered it to-night. But, in fairness, he should have stated the fact to the House. It is not to be expected that the facilities of a narrow gauge road can be maintained in as high a state of efficiency as those of a standard road. Speaking as one from Western Canada who is interested in the Intercolonial and the work it does, interested in the vast terminals being completed at St. John and Halifax-

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Whereabouts at St. John?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

Then, when my hon. friend ran an election in 1896 on the cry of better terms for St. John he was merely bluffing because St. John is without all these better facilities yet.

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

The work is stopped in the midst fut the war and I dare say some revenue is stopped a bit also. But it may be that in the midst of war you have to stop some work. That shows the insincerity of my hon. friend when he asks the Government to stop some public undertakings in the midst of the war. If -it should happen that the undertakings are near home it is all bad; if it should happen that they are near some other person's home it is all right. That may be politics but it is not statecraft in the middle of a great war. This House has a right to ask that the Intercolonial shall be so operated, conducted and managed as to sh.ow no deficits but to maintain an equilibrum between revenue and expenditure so that the axiom, or the principle, upon which transportation facilities are provided, may be maintained. What is the principle?-that they who use must pay. With reference to transportation, if the facilities do not pay for themselves in revenue, the rate should be so raised as to enable the revenue to pay the expenditures. The people of the lower provinces objected so strongly a few months ago when the management increased the rates upon the road that the rates had to be reduced again. Under a railway commission that would not happen. I say once more that I have no interest in the Intercolonial except the large interest that every man has who lives in Canada, no interest except to see that it properly serves the great ports of Halifax and St. John. St. John is served, it is true, by the Canadian Pacific, but Halifax is served only by the Intercolonial. I hope, Sir, to see the day when great ships crossing the Atlantic, as the Mauretania did in 90 hours, may be able to land passengers at Halifax at the splendid terminals there, swinging in 'alongside of the dock without tugs, without having to turn the vessel to come in to that magnificent terminal, and being able to embark passengers at the dock head and setting them down in Chicago two days sooner than they could arrive by way of New York. That is one of the things we should contemplate the possibility of and if we are true to the vast and matchless opportunities that lie before us, by reason

of the great harbour at Halifax for passengers, by reason of the harbour at St. John for freight traffic, and by reason of this Intercolonial railway, that has been built up with the revenues of the people of Canada, we will be able to discharge some of the duties that we owe alike to Canadians and to the people pf the other parts of the Empire, and in addition, we will be able to make this a country of which all men shall be proud. The hon. member for St. John stands here in the midst of a great war, denounces the management of the Intercolonial and tries to make us believe that the men in charge of that road are inefficient, that men should be elevated to high positions whether they are qualified or not as long as seniority or something else is observed, that men should be promoted without regard to fitness" ,or to the fact that they are bringing discredit on their own country by not giving assistance to those who are labouring to promote the success of the operation of that great road.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS-PROMOTION OF EMPLOYEES.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I desire to make a correction of the hon. gentleman. Neither I nor any member on this side of the House said that men should be promoted regardless of fitness. What we do claim is that the Intercolonial has had for years many men fitted to take higher positions in connection with the management of the railway. -

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

Does my hon. friend not know that in the administration of the Canadian Pacific, the Pennsylvania and every other great railway system they have regard to one thing only, and that i3 fitness?

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

In OTder that a road might be 100 per cent efficient a man of 25, possessing the qualifications, might be placed over a man of 45 or 65. In the administration of a great public trust, such as the Intercolonial is, that road must ultimately depend upon, first of all, an efficient general manager, and, secondly, he, on his part, must have a free 'hand to select the instruments to carry out his directions from the standpoint of efficiency without regard to political considerations. On that principle and for that purpose this House will lend its assistance to the Minister of Railways and Canals, who has endeavoured to follow that line, although he has not received that great measure of assistance he should have received even from his own

people. I believe that in the end it will be found that the Intercolonial has entered upon an era of prosperity based upon business management that will reflect credit noit only upon the Government, or the set of men who may devise policies and who have the courage to carry them forward regardless of party consideration, but upon the Canadian people who are endeavouring and who are willing and anxious to make out of their public facilities and their transportation system a success comparable to that of any privately-owned enterprise.

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LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Liberal

Mr. O. TURGEON (Gloucester):

Mr. Speaker, before the debate closes, I wish to make a few remarks. I do not rise with the intention of answering the eloquent remarks of the hon. member for Calgary (Mr. Bennett). He has made an appeal to the sense of the Canadian people and he has told us that the Intercolonial railway is not merely the property of the people of the Maritime Provinces and that it is not merely for the interest of the people of that part of Canada. If my hon. friend had been here twelve or fifteen years ago he might have heard many of us, including myself, declare in this House that the construction of the Intercolonial railway was not for the especial benefit of the Maritime Provinces but that it was built as a national enterprise for the benefit of the provinces of the west as they grow, and as they will grow in the future, as much as for the benefit of the Maritime Provinces themselves. The pact of Confederation was not made with the intention of keeping apart the Maritime Provinces from the provinces of the west. It was made with the intention of making one race, one nationality, with a great future before it, and possessing great industries and commercial interests. My hon. friend has told us that if the deficits continue on the Intercolonial the rest of the people will not be prepared to stand by those deficits. That is not a national, or a Canadian utterance, in my judgment. What would the hon. member for Calgary say if I were to tell him that I, as a member from the Maritime Provinces, will not stand by the expenditures for the construction and maintenance of the canals of Ontario from which we have no direct benefit? The canals of Ontario are national enterprises in the same sense as the Intercolonial, or any other railway to which our support may be extended, is. We do not come here for the purpose of pleading. I believe myself as broadminded a Canadian

as any member of this House or as any man in this country from the Atlantic to the Pacific.. My interests are in the west as much as in the east, but at the same time, how can we expect that we should not be allowed to claim on the part of the people we represent what we look for from the administration of any department of Government. The administration of the Intercolonial is in the hands of the Department of Railways and Canals. We have the same minister in charge of the canals and the Intercolonial railway. I do not speak for the Maritime Provinces with the intention of making apologies to the western part of Canada. We have come into Confederation and although we have not come with all the natural resources possessed by Ontario or Quebec we have come with vast harbours planted along our coasts, We have vast harbours planted along our coast, as Joseph Howe said, by the hand of Providence, not merely for the use and advantage of the Maritime Provinces, but more particularly for the use and advantage of the western provinces. Without the ports of Saint John and Halifax, without the advantage of the coast of the Maritime Provinces, the people of Ontario and the West to-day would be at the mercy of the collectors of customs of Boston and New York, and there would be no Confederation and no Canada. When we ask for improvements in the management of the Intercolonial, we do n,ot come as beggars from any other portion of Canada, but simply exercise our right, as has been .done by my hon. friend ifr.om Calgary to-day.

I rose merely to discharge my duty as a member for a constituency traversed by the Intercolonial, and to express my sympathy with the principle involved in the motion now before the House. I shall not attempt to vouch for all the statements he has given to the House, but shall leave it to the minister to ascertain their correctness. The hon. member for Calgary intimated that the members on this side of the House desired promotions to be made irrespective of ability or qualification. I heard no such suggestion this afternoon, and I am sure that the intention of the resolution is that such promotion should be made only among officials who have shown the capacity, the adaptability and the ability to fill the positions to which they may be called. It is in the general interest of the nation that such promotions should be made. The hon. member for Calgary suggested that the Intercolonial

should be placed on the same level as a corporation railway. Every corporation railway, in the interests of its service, seeks to give promotion to its employees as they develop and show ability for better employment. That is the best 'security they can give to the public.

My hon. friend has spoken of the deficits on the Intercolonial under the Liberal Administration. Every one knew at the time of Confederation that the Intercolonial for many years would have to meet annual deficits, but it was felt that the great advantages which would flow from the operation of the railroad in linking together the portions of this great country would far exceed the small amounts that we would have to pay from year to year until we attained the development of this country foreseen by tlhe fathers of Confederation as brightly as any one of u's sees it to-day. I am not attacking any deficit that may occur under the administration of my hon. friend. It may be that this year, owing to war conditions and the exceptionally unfavourable climatic conditions, a deficit will be unavoidable. I do not object to that; we will have to pay what is necessary fpr the maintenance of a good national road that will develop the interests of the country. It has been reported that this year a great many accidents have occurred on the Intercolonial, more perhaps than on any other road; but the conditions have been most extraordinary. Not for many years have we had a winter in Eastern Canada which made the operation of railroads so difficult. But, of course, in former years we have had hard winters and have had to compete with them, and the ministers of former days encountered the same difficulties that have confronted my hon. friend this year.

Eeturning to the main motion, I desire to support a suggestion made by my hon. friend from Rimouski (Mr. Boulay) as to a division between Campbellton and Rimouski, the division lying between the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick. I do this not because I should like tp see a division of the people of the provinces; but because conditions have changed in the last few years, and the change has impressed itself on me as one living in the northern district of New Brunswick, not a long distance from the province of Quebec. Conditions have changed in this respect, that the officials of the section Moncton-Ste. Flavie have been given during the past few years a greatly extended line to

[Ur. Turgeon.]

manage. They have been given the Fredericton railway from Newcastle to Fredericton and, a year ago, the International railway, which has been taken over by the Railway Department. Both of these roads have been given to the same officials at Campbellton. It may therefore be that that district would have sufficient work in the development of the trade which is bound to accrue more particularly along the line of the International if that road is to be given a good service. I believe that more attention might be given to that road than it has received since the Intercolonial took it over. It might he that it would he better to make one division from Moncton to Campbellton and extend the division from Levis or Riviere du Loup to Campbellton. On that division it would perhaps be asier for the department and the Minister of Railways and Canals to have employees speaking both languages, French and English, as requested, naturally and rightly, by the people of the province of Quebec. The minister

has said that he would consider

any suggestions that might be made. I have all possible sympathy for the hon. minister, and when I refer to a particular incident I do not wish to hold him responsible for it. I may tell him, however, that there are many instances of political doings in the sections of the country traversed by the Intercolonial railway of which he may not be aware. This, perhaps, is due to the fact that the local politicians are using their influence in a way that the minister would condemn. I am sure that !hg will condemn this influence as represented in a particular case which I shall bring to his attention. In northern New Brunswick the local Conservative politicians have been very active during the past four or five years.

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April 25, 1917